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Davis, Stephen D. [Steve]

Job title: 

Information Scientist (SEPASAL Database Manager)

Jodrell Laboratory
Sustainable Uses
Joined Kew: 


Qualifications and appointments: 
  • Diploma in Horticulture (Hons), Kew, 1977
  • BSc (Hons), University of Plymouth, 1981

Database manager for SEPASAL and contributor and editor of plant uses data for Plant Species Pages published on Kew’s website.

Researching and documenting the uses and use-related characteristics and properties of tropical and subtropical dryland plants, especially those in Africa, for the Survey of Economic Plants for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (SEPASAL) database. I developed the specification for database administration, data dissemination and remote data entry into SEPASAL via the Internet, and set up SEPASAL offices (nodes) at the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) and the National Botanical Research Institute of Namibia (NBRI), recruiting and coordinating their respective SEPASAL teams between 2002-2008.

Other aspects of my role include preparing research reports in answer to enquiries on uses of plants, and providing cover for answering poisonous plant enquiries, including urgent telephone enquiries from hospital A&E Departments, veterinary surgeries or members of the public seeking information on whether a plant is poisonous through ingestion or otherwise harmful, e.g. through skin contact. Correct and rapid identification of the plant species involved is of paramount importance, and my plant identification skills are often called upon in such cases. I liaise with Herbarium staff if a confident identification cannot be made, and use various databases and library resources to provide information on toxicity.

Since 2009 I have made significant contributions to Plant Species Pages published on Kew’s website, by writing and editing the sections on plant uses, coordinating input from other science staff in the Jodrell where necessary, and making substantial contributions to, and editing, other sections of the Pages to ensure data accuracy.

I am playing an active role in the Science and Horticulture Systems (SHS) Review process, and I am a member of the eFloras sub-committee.

Selected publications: 

Rix, M. & Davis, S. (2011). Artocarpus altilis. In: Plants & Fungi from Kew, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Available online

Grace, O.M., Malombe, I., Davis, S.D., Pearce, T.R. & Simmonds, M.S.J. (2010). Identifying priority species in dryland Kenya for conservation in the Millennium Seed Bank Project. In: Systematics and Conservation of African Plants, ed. X. van der Burgt, J. van der Maesen & J.-M. Onana, pp. 749-758. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Prendergast, H.D.V., Davis, S.D. & Way, M. (1997). Dryland plants and their uses. In: World Atlas of Desertification, Second Edition. London: Edward Arnold, for United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, ed. N. Middleton & D. Thomas, pp. 136-139.

Davis, S.D., Heywood, V.H. & Hamilton, A.C. (eds). (1994-1997). Centres of Plant Diversity: A Guide and Strategy for their Conservation. 3 Volumes. IUCN Publications, Cambridge, UK.

Davis, S.D., Droop, J.M., Gregerson, P., Henson, L., Leon, C.J. et al. (1986). Plants In Danger: What Do We Know? IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 461 pp.